What do Red Bull have in store with their much-vaunted Spanish Grand Prix upgrade?
And will F1 hit its target of lapping five seconds quicker at the Circuit de Catalunya?
Here?s this weekend?s big talking points.
Will Red Bull?s upgrades make it a three-way contest?
The team which most people expected would make the biggest gains from Formula One?s new technical regulations have disappointed so far. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen have gone into each race weekend knowing fifth place is the best they can realistically expect from a car which is 1.4% off the pace of the front runners.
However that may all change this weekend as the team is bringing its first significant chassis and aerodynamic upgrade of the season. Will we see a drastically different RB13 or has Adrian Newey and his team envisaged another subtle evolution?
The biggest challenge the team appears to face is how to recover the performance it lost due to off-season clarifications on the rules regarding sophisticated suspension systems. The TAG Heuer-branded Renault engine remains a weak link too, but one of the biggest surprises this year is how a team with such immense resources has failed to keep pace with its top rivals.
If that doesn?t change this weekend, they can forget about collecting any championship silverware this year.
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Can Force India unlock their potential?
Force India is looking for a big step tooForce India is another team which has begun the new season at a less competitive level than it ended the previous year. Floor upgrades and weight saving on the VJM10 are expected to help bridge the performance gap to Williams.
The team has been served very well in the meantime by both its drivers. The more experience Sergio Perez has led their charge while Esteban Ocon, who?s been an F1 driver for less than 12 months, has also collected points at every race. But they?ll be hoping their life gets a bit easier from this weekend.
Raikkonen the odd man out
Unless Red Bull deliver the goods there are at present four cars in the field capable of winning races. And the only one that hasn?t so far is Kimi Raikkonen.
As his team mate Sebastian Vettel has generously pointed out, Raikkonen?s season to date would be looking rather better but for a few problems here and there. After all he came within a few hundredths of starting from pole position in Russia, and from there he might have found a way to hold Valtteri Bottas back.
But the points gap between the Ferrari and Mercedes drivers tells its own story. Raikkonen came close to a win here last year, and with another contract renewal discussion coming up it?s time for him to deliver.
A new experience for fans
Will this make it easier to spot the drivers?The fifth race of the year, informally considered the start of the ?European season?, sees the introduction of a range of initiatives from Formula One?s new owners to enhance the offering for fans.
The change can be seen on the cars themselves, which now feature clearer driver identification graphics including the abbreviation of their surnames plus their flags.
There?s much more for fans to do around the track as well with a host of new fan experiences announced today. Is this the beginning of a new fan-friendly era for F1?
F1?s new cars face their big test
As has been pointed out several times already, the Spanish Grand Prix is the litmus test for whether F1?s plans to make the cars quicker have worked. The target is straightforward: if anyone can lap below 1?19.681 this weekend they will have achieved their aim of reducing lap times by five seconds at the Circuit de Catalunya compared to 2015.
Will it happen? Mercedes suggests not as the biggest gain seen so far this year is 4.1 seconds. However Catalunya?s many quick corners should mean we see a greater lap time gain than that ? possibly as much as the hoped-for five seconds. During testing Pirelli predicted the target will be hit:
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2017 Spanish Grand Prix
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